I am just a hobby beekeeper. I have two small residential apiaries of a few more than a dozen hives, total. Half of them are at the property I share ownership of, with my mother and brother in Marana, AZ. The property is zoned [SH], it is slightly larger than one acre, and I have kept bees there for the past 10 years and presently have just 6 colonies on the property. See section "E" in 18.07.030: http://www.co.pima.az.us/cob/code/c18a5.html#576
About one and a half months ago someone from the county health department paid a visit in response to a complaint, allegedly from one of our neighbors. I was not present, but spoke with him on the phone while he and my mother stood ten feet from the hives for about 15 minutes. He mentioned that no one reported having been stung or attacked, and the bees bothered neither he nor my mother during his visit. He assured me that my bees were perfectly acceptable as far as he could see. He only asked for assurances that I would take appropriate action if the bees ever became overly agressive. Of course I would, my mother takes her walks past the hives each morning. About a month later a group of two persons from the county health department stopped by, in response to another complaint by the same person. They also gave me their assurances that my bees seemed just fine. They explained that it was simply an essential part of their process to respond personally to every complaint.
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Then I got a call from Pima County Zoning Enforcement. They are requiring me to obtain a beekeeping permit in order to keep my bees. They referred me to the department concerned with issuing permits. That department thought I had failed to understand the instructions I was given by zoning enforcement. The representative I spoke with explained how he had worked there for more than 25 years without ever having anyone need to obtain such a permit, and after conferring with his supervisor assured me that no permit was required to keep bees on property zoned [SH] in Pima County. Back I went to zoning enforcement --- eventually the supervisor from zoning enforcement spoke with the supervisor of the permit issuing department and now I am expected to obtain a $25 permit (I may be the first beekeeper in the history of Pima County that needs a permit to keep bees on my own rural property). They made a notation in the permit record for the property, "Beekeeping without a permit". The idea is that I will obtain the permit, zoning enforcement will inspect to see that the code requirements are met for keeping bees in my zone and then they will clear me of, "Beekeeping without a permit". I thought I should check with other beekeepers who may have more experience with this kind of thing, as I have none. There is no actual "Beekeeping permit". This is the zoning code they are using to require me to obtain the requested permit, it is an excerpt from section 18.01.030:
"E. Zoning Permits.
1. A zoning use permit shall be required for the erection, construction, reconstruction or alteration of any structure, or the change in use of any property or structure, whether or not such activity requires a building permit.
2. A zoning construction permit is required for the above activities when such activity does not require a building permit, except that an accessory building or accessory structure of two hundred square feet or less in area does not require a zoning construction permit when the cost of the accessory building or accessory structure is $1,000 or less. (Ord. 2004-59 Â§ 1, 2004; Ord. 1994-135 Â§ 1, 1994; Ord. 1985-188 Â§ 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 1985-82 (part), 1985)"
When I read the part of the code that specifically addresses beekeeping I see that their is no specification for a permit requirement and in paragraph E.5. of 18.07.030. that the zoning inspector is required to determine that I am not following the zoning standards for beekeeping and if it is determined that I am not, they will then contact the health department and together decide the fate of my bees. It sounds like they want me to pay them before they do their job according to the zoning code. Help!